Thursday, 23 May, 2019

First house price fall since 2012 casts pall over upbeat forecast

Chancellor Philip Hammond addressing Parliament during his Spring Statement Chancellor Philip Hammond addressing Parliament during his Spring Statement
Jean Garcia | 16 March, 2019, 08:37

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (picture) issued a fresh warning that leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal would damage the United Kingdom economy and leave people less well off.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted economic growth of 1.2% this year - a downgrade from the 1.6% forecast at the Budget in October 2018.

Notwithstanding sluggish growth around the world, Britain is expanding faster than Germany and our public finances are improving. A chaotic exit that would throw his forecasts into disarray. "The idea that some readily available fix to avoid the consequences of a no-deal Brexit is just wrong".

On Tuesday, parliament rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed Brexit plan for a second time, little more than two weeks before the scheduled date of departure from the EU.

The OBR's estimate of 1.4% growth for 2020 remains unchanged, but 2021 and 2022 are now expected to deliver slightly higher growth, with 1.6% forecast for both years.

In documents released alongside Chancellor Philip Hammond's Spring Statement, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) said growth in the United Kingdom and global economies had slowed since October's Budget, leading to a downgrade in its short-term forecasts.

"Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term and a smaller, less prosperous economy in the long term, than if we leave with a deal", Hammond told parliament, warning of higher unemployment and prices and lower wages under a no-deal Brexit.

Lawmakers are expected to rule out a no-deal departure - a scenario the PM herself accepts would "damage" the United Kingdom - in a vote later yesterday.

Chicago Bears sign Ha Ha Clinton-Dix: Grade, reaction and more
Over four and a half seasons with the Packers, Clinton-Dix tallied 390 tackles, 14 interceptions and 5.5 sacks. During the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons, Clinton-Dix hardly came off the field for the Packers' defense.

The problem facing Hammond is that the OBR forecasts were prepared on the assumption that Britain leaves the European Union on March 29 in a smooth and orderly fashion.

"I hoped we would do that last night, but I am confident that we, as a House, will do it over the coming weeks".

Mr Hammond said rejecting an immediate no-deal Brexit and extending Article 50 could help find a "deal we can collectively support".

Mr Hammond said this cash could go towards public services, capital investment, low taxes and debt reduction, unless it was soaked up responding to a no-deal Brexit.

Still, Hammond said borrowing will be at its lowest level in 22 years.

Borrowing will fall from £29.3 billion (RM157.85 billion) in 2019-20, compared to a forecast of £31.8 billion in October.

"That is not what the British people voted for in June 2016", he said.

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